Dear Ben Duckett, Yashasvi Jaiswal's Fiery Double-Hundred Is Not Bazball-Inspired; Here's Proof Ben Duckett and Yashasvi Jaiswal. (Image: ANI)

Dear Ben Duckett, I hope this letter finds you well. First of, all, commiserations on the loss in the third Test vs India in Rajkot. You were exceptional in the first innings where you constructed a superb 153 off 151 balls. That was one electrifying innings of yours where you dominated from Ball number one. Even Jasprit Bumrah could not stop you. The authority with which you batted reflected the true nature of the current style of cricket England have adopted in the Tests. Bazball, which you and the English media likes to call it. 

We, outside of England, have no problem with it. You guys have created a style of cricket that is rarely seen in a team for such a long time. And honestly, congrataulations for that. 

Test cricket has seen players like Virender Sehwag, Adam Gilchrist, Kevin Pietersen, and most recently Rishabh Pant play with a sense of urgency and clarity in their head. But for a team to collectively play the same style is probably the first time. And I must admit that while this brand of cricket is attached with huge risks, like we saw in the 2nd innings in Rajkot, continuing to take these risks shows your courage.

Also Read | Watch: Yashasvi Jaiswal’s Sensational Six-Hitting Spree Against James Anderson

Having said that, your comments after Day 3 didn’t land well in India and elsewhere, including your own country. While no one is denying that Bazball has actually created a storm, to take undue credit for any aggressive display of batting by the opponents does not look great on English cricket.

While you rightly called Yashasvi ‘a superstar in the making’ after his 100 in the second innings, you were completely wrong when you said, “When you see players from the opposition playing like that, it almost feels like we should take some credit that they’re playing differently than how other people play Test cricket.”

Do you know the strike rate of Yashasvi before this England series began? I am assuming the answer is a ‘No’. So here’s a quick look: Jaiswal had batted with a strike rate of 75 thrice in the seven innings before the home series vs you all. Two of these innings were played with strike rate of over 120.

Yashaswi’s first-class average and Test strike rate is nearing 70. The point is this: while Yashasvi showed great urgency and was helped by a lucid track to score runs freely, also thanks to some poor bowling by England, if tomorrow the situation arises where he needs to dig in the whole day to save a Test match, he will do that. This is playing for a draw or time. This, I am pretty sure, you guys don’t associate with Bazball.

Many of former English cricketers like Nick Knight, Michael Vaughan feel that while Bazball is exciting, one must admit that England have got carried away by the name, at times. Remember that despite Bazball, you have not really won anything substantial except maybe the series in Pakistan. Remember the Ashes? When you guys could have beaten Aussies at home?

England lost the last 18 wickets for 234 inside 75 overs .. a warning sign to them in tough conditions against a good side that if you give them a sniff things can escalate very quickly .. India have been brilliant this last 2 days .. #INDvENG
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) February 18, 2024

Even when this England team have lost in the last 2 years you have always been able to take positives .. or they haven’t been hammered .. this is looking like a wake up call that surely sends a message you can’t just play one way against quality teams .. #INDvENG
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) February 18, 2024

Here’s what Vaughan said on your team’s performance after the Rajkot Test: “Even when this England team have lost in the last 2 years you have always been able to take positives .. or they haven’t been hammered … this is looking like a wakeup call that surely sends a message you can’t just play one way against quality teams.”

Vaughan also reminded you that just because you have started playing attacking cricket from the last two years, it does not mean that the world was not playing this style ever before. “Duckett also reckons they deserve credit for the way Yashasvi Jaiswal is batting, as if no player in history has ever played an attacking shot. They talk about not playing for the draw, but to me that’s disrespectful to Test cricket. The draw is a crucial part of the game, and in the five-Test contest has often provided the bedrock of some great series victories,” Vaughan said.

Former England cricketer Nick Knight had warned you guys of not playing an ‘extreme’ version of ‘Bazball’ before the series, underlining the setback England faced in last Ashes. Knight wrote in his Dafa News column, “I am sure Indian fans are curious to see ‘Bazball’. I think they have watched England play this brand of cricket and are familiar with it. I think in the Ashes summer, the England team played extreme Bazball but now they must play a more refined Bazball to be effective. A refined ‘Bazball’ is to find the right moment to express yourself and put the opposition under extreme pressure. There were a couple of times in the Ashes series where they got the focus wrong. If they learn from that experience and find the right moment to fire, they can benefit from it. Perhaps when the condition suits England, you will see them attack the India bowlers. That will make for a great watch.”

I know that any style of cricket is brutally criticised after a loss. But the crux of this open letter to you is to send a reminder that England are not ‘inspiring’ the world yet to play a certain style of cricket. Every team has its own DNA and it would not change overnight. Various factors like changes in domestic cricket, nature of pitches, board’s word have a role to play on how a team plays on the ground.

So, while England are free to play Bazball and hopefully they reach the top playing it and dominate the world cricket too. But one must admit that Bazball is still a work in progress. If you guys, go on to win a World Test Championship one day and two to three teams decide to fully adopt Bazball, then you can take this credit. For now, we are happy playing Jais-Ball. 

Thanks and regards,

A cricket enthusiast.

Read More